Did you ever have an employee not understand what you asked them to do, or a customer that resisted buying no matter what you said? Have you found yourself in verbal struggles with someone over an issue, not being able to convince them of the merits of your idea?
Whose job is it to communicate effectively with co-workers, customers, staff and bosses? Yours! Recognize how the other person likes to communicate and modify your way of talking with them to fit theirs. You'll sell more, get more done and have far more enjoyable interactions with everyone!
Remember the golden rule? "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"? Many of us, as children, learned this model for good behavior and applied it to our communication. Later in life I learned a similar rule... one which is infinitely more effective:
The Platinum Rule:
"Do unto others as they would like to be done unto"
This simple principle revolutionized my communication. Let's look at/approach it this way. In communication you have two parties, a sender and a receiver. The result of any communication is... the response you get. If you don't like the response, change the message. Now, there are numerous ways you can use to modify your communication. I've discovered applying the Platinum Rule works like magic. But how do you determine how people want to be communicated to?
Here's a simple framework that's both quick and effective. Most people fall into one of 4 communication styles.
The first communication style is people who are always Direct and Results Oriented. I had a wonderful client named Dave who was a classic representative of this group. He is a no-nonsense, give it to me straight kind of communicator. After a few interactions where I observed Dave struggling to be patient while I got to the point. I learned to distill my message and speak directly in terms of actions and results. If you have the opportunity to observe their work or home environment, you're likely to find these people are Spartan and well organized.
The second style is the Relationship Communicators. These people have lots of family photos on the desk and a drawer with everything from Band-Aids to teabags, just in case. They thrive on connecting with and caring for people. They want to know your life story and will tell you theirs if given the slightest opportunity. For many of us all the "chatter" may seem too personal and a waste of time. Usually though, a little time spent with this type of communicator is a good investment. Ask about their family, share a little something about yourself. Once the alliance is made, relationship communicators are fabulously loyal.
Another style is the Analyzer. This group of people revel in facts and figures, and won't do something for you simply out of loyalty, because they, like Mr. Spock, are driven by logic. Be wise and provide these individuals with details, specifics and well thought-out reasons why if you want to engage them in any activity. My favorite tip when selling to these commanders of data is leave them with printed pages of facts and statistics that they can review and evaluate at their leisure.
Finally, there's the Enthusiast, the person who loves great new ideas. They tend to be expressive and dramatic, use lots of gestures and make great cheerleaders for your ideas as well as their own. To win the enthusiast over, go for big pictures instead of loading them down with facts and figures, then muster up as much enthusiasm, energy and color as you can and charm their socks off.
Give it a try. Design your communication around the preferences and expectations of your receivers. With a bit of practice, you'll see a dramatic increase in your communication effectiveness!
-Carolyn B. Thompson
Used with permission of Recruit, Inspire & Retain a monthly ezine of TRAINING SYSTEMS INC, www.trainingsys.com